Countries That Exist, but Easily Could Have Not

The discussion of countries that potentially could exist, but in our own timeline did not for whatever reason - whether different forms of countries that exist today, or nations for ethnic or regional groups that never received statehood OTL - is a common enough topic, but one I find of similar gravity is the opposite: countries that exist, but easily could have never come to be, particularly within the modern era. Granted there is a lot of wiggle room regarding empires that OTL collapsed simply not doing so, but nonetheless I find them interesting ideas to consider with regard to how sovereignty impacts national identity.

The purpose of this thread is, therefore, to discuss that - countries that in other timelines easily could not exist at all, and how that would impact the viewpoints of their would-be peoples and the state of the world itself.

Probably the most striking example to me is Armenia. If you avoid the collapse of the Russian Empire and have the Ottoman Empire go down a similar-to-OTL path regarding its non-Turkish minorities, then it's unlikely that Armenia would come to exist as anything more than an autonomous ethnic region of a reformed Russian state. Moreover, without an independent Armenia it seems unlikely that recognition of the Armenian Genocide would be nearly as widespread - comparisons with the Circassian Genocide seem more apt in such a scenario.
Jordan and Lebanon - I honestly do not know why it was created. Could easily have been a part of Syria.
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia - Though they had more people, especially Azerbaijan and Georgia, with an existing USSR or Russia integrating most of the USSR, they could have avoided to become independent
North Macedonia - Could have become Bulgarian or Serbian and Macedonia would be merely a region
Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia - Could all have become Serbian or remained Serbian.
Slovenia - Should they have remained with Austria rather than become a part of Yugoslavia
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - the current Baltics only exist due to the Russian Civil War in 1918-1921. With their national identity created, the Soviet occupation was problematic. They are like the South Caucasus States but less populated hence better to keep in the Russian sphere
Belgium - I am honestly surprised that Belgium made it to the 20th century, let alone 2020. Remaining Dutch, annexed by France or divided seemed really possible (and desirable)
Saudi Arabia - Another Dynasty could have taken over. Probably one pro-Ottoman had the Ottomans avoided WW1.
 
1. If Japan avoided Militarism and successfully democratize in 1920s, independent korea(both north and south) Would be butterflied away.
I think an independent Korea will come about regardless. Japan had a hell of a time keeping a lid on Korean nationalism. Japan could probably keep Taiwan, but Korea probably goes its own way by the '70s.
 
I sense a good deal of "eternal empire" or "empire-wanking" wishful thinking here. It is really surprisingly difficult for democracies in the long run to keep ruling dissatisfied peoples who consider themselves foreign nations. (True, the US did manage to violently suppress southern independence. But it did so only by not only a bloody wear but also by abolishing slavery which was the real basis for the southern independence movement in the first place--the Southerners did not feel themselves to be ethnically a different nation from the Yankees.) Of course absolutist regimes can forcibly suppress both independence movements and domestic "liberals" who advocate concessions to such movements (concessions which begin with autonomy but are likely to lead ultimately to independence). But absolutist regimes also tend not to last forever.

For that reason I am skeptical of assertions that different decisions in 1914 would mean that Poland would still be Russian or Ireland part of the UK.
Poland and Ireland maybe not. Some lower populated regions could however... for example the Baltics. If the Russians had converted half the population of the Baltics, Russification would go smoother.
 
Europe:


Surviving West Indies Federation and you haven't several small island nations.

USA gives statehood for Pacifica so no Micronesia, Marshalles and Palau.
As someone from the West Indies, the Federation wasn’t gonna work. The Jamaicans would have simultaneously had most of the power and also feel like they had too little. My own country would have left once our oil boom began and without the two biggest islands you might as well name it the Federation of the Lower Antilles.

Pacifica? That’d be the least populated and least dense state in the USA. Doesn’t make much sense to group them all together, especially when there is few Americans from the mainland or even Hawaii living there. It just couldn’t be a viable entity. Puerto Rico still isn’t a state and they have a much better case than “Pacifica”.
Jordan and Lebanon - I honestly do not know why it was created. Could easily have been a part of Syria.
Because the Maronites really, really didn’t want to be apart of Syria. It’d actually make more sense for Syria to be smaller.
 
As someone from the West Indies, the Federation wasn’t gonna work. The Jamaicans would have simultaneously had most of the power and also feel like they had too little. My own country would have left once our oil boom began and without the two biggest islands you might as well name it the Federation of the Lower Antilles.

Pacifica? That’d be the least populated and least dense state in the USA. Doesn’t make much sense to group them all together, especially when there is few Americans from the mainland or even Hawaii living there. It just couldn’t be a viable entity. Puerto Rico still isn’t a state and they have a much better case than “Pacifica”.

Because the Maronites really, really didn’t want to be apart of Syria. It’d actually make more sense for Syria to be smaller.
Actually I meant Jordan and later added Lebanon then forgot to change the comment. Regardless, the Maronites where not a majority by the time Lebanon got independent (Maronite and other christians formed the majority). Considering how divided it was it could have remained Syrian.

Jordan really is something I wonder why it exists. That could have become Syrian.
 
Are we counting nations that gained existence but can later lose or nations that never gain independence at all?
 
Regardless, the Maronites where not a majority by the time Lebanon got independent (Maronite and other christians formed the majority). Considering how divided it was it could have remained Syrian.
The Demographics don’t matter as much as whether or France merge Lebanon with Syria or not . The Alawites wanted to remain independent but ended up as part of Syria due to the French.
 
Actually I meant Jordan and later added Lebanon then forgot to change the comment. Regardless, the Maronites where not a majority by the time Lebanon got independent (Maronite and other christians formed the majority). Considering how divided it was it could have remained Syrian.

Jordan really is something I wonder why it exists. That could have become Syrian.
The reason why they weren’t the majority was due to the Maronites getting greedy and expanding the borders from the original Mount Lebanon region to the current borders. The country could have plausibly been smaller, but the Maronites didn’t want to be apart of a Muslim country.
The Demographics don’t matter as much as whether or France merge Lebanon with Syria or not . The Alawites wanted to remain independent but ended up as part of Syria due to the French.
That was one of the very very few concessions the French made to the Arab nationalists. The Alawites and the Druze not becoming independent was a aberration from French policy at the time, not the rule. Also, it wasn’t as much demographics as it was that the Maronites held significant economic and political power in the region and the French had historically supported the Maronites for decades before the Ottoman Empire imploded.
 
The reason why they weren’t the majority was due to the Maronites getting greedy and expanding the borders from the original Mount Lebanon region to the current borders. The country could have plausibly been smaller, but the Maronites didn’t want to be apart of a Muslim country.

That was one of the very very few concessions the French made to the Arab nationalists. The Alawites and the Druze not becoming independent was a aberration from French policy at the time, not the rule. Also, it wasn’t as much demographics as it was that the Maronites held significant economic and political power in the region and the French had historically supported the Maronites for decades before the Ottoman Empire imploded.
I am fine with everything you say except that the Ottoman Empire did not implode. You can't implode if your lands are overrun by the enemy. Austria-Hungary imploded. The Ottoman Empire was thorn apart.
 
The Congress of Vienna could've easily carved up Switzerland and shared it between France, the German Confederation and Italy.



No, no and no.

I'm sorry, but I'm sick of people who think Japan could've easily invaded Australia.


Australia is literally impossible to invade. The Japanese knew this from doing the math and crunching the numbers. The manpower required for a operation of this undertaking would be more than the manpower used in the invasion of the entirety of Southeast Asia. They deemed any plan to land troops on the Australian continent infeasible, even plans as small as establishing outposts on the tips of the Australian continent, because they knew the Allies would just push them out again.

Have you looked at a map of the Pacific Ocean? Japan is six thousand kilometres away from Australia. This distance was going to make supplying an invasion of Australia a impossibility because the supply lines are going to be stretched to the limit. Tojo even said the following while on trial after the war.



The last reason why a invasion of Australia was not going to work is because of geography. For this reason, I proclaim Australia the Russia of the Pacific.

Unlike the rest of the Pacific region which hosts tropical environments, Australia is 90% desert, which is why most of the population hugs the coast. If the Japanese somehow make landfall in say, the Northern Territory or Queensland, the Australian military will simply retreat into the Outback. Desert warfare is a type of warfare the Japanese have absolutely no experience in, since their soldiers are used to fighting in New Guinea-style environments and even that took some getting used to.

The Japanese can try to seize the cities if they want, but they can't truly conquer the continent until they've conquered the Outback.

Like Tojo said, their real plan was to use New Guinea as a base to not only raid Northern Australia, but to blockade Australia from the rest of the world and force it to voluntarily surrender. Of course, with the United States Navy around, this was never going to happen either.

And let's just say Japan invaded Australia, even though I just stated the multiple reasons why it couldn't have. The Australian people were being prepared for total war ala the Soviet Union. They were being told to destroy everything of value to the enemy, from bicycles to boats. If the Japanese landed troops on the Australian continent, the people of the continent were not going to make it easy for them.
Generally, I would actually agree with you BUT in 1942 Australia was, before March, pretty well indefensible. It lacked troops, it lacked weapons, it lacked armour and it lacked aircraft. All that was facing a Japanese offensive was Militia - home defence troops. The best equipped, the best trained, the most experienced troops were overseas in early 1942 in the AIF. Until their return, Australia was facing a modern, well equipped and motivated enemy. After mid-March 1942, the AIF returned but only amounted to two divisions of infantry.

Yes, the numbers would suggest that the IJA and IJN were on a losing wicket but the numbers were also the same for the invasion of Malaya and the Philippines. They won both those and the invasion of the NEI.
 
Generally, I would actually agree with you BUT in 1942 Australia was, before March, pretty well indefensible. It lacked troops, it lacked weapons, it lacked armour and it lacked aircraft. All that was facing a Japanese offensive was Militia - home defence troops. The best equipped, the best trained, the most experienced troops were overseas in early 1942 in the AIF. Until their return, Australia was facing a modern, well equipped and motivated enemy. After mid-March 1942, the AIF returned but only amounted to two divisions of infantry.

Yes, the numbers would suggest that the IJA and IJN were on a losing wicket but the numbers were also the same for the invasion of Malaya and the Philippines. They won both those and the invasion of the NEI.
It wasn't indefensible at all. In fact, it was unconquerable because of its size. Malaya and the Philippines are not continental land masses. Australia is.

Can the Japanese take Darwin? Yes.
Can they hold it in the face of an allied interdiction campaign? Not for any reasonable length of time.
Can they expand their beachhead to get to anything worthwhile? Not a chance!
 

Vaporized

Banned
Taiwan could've been part of China always. Korea could be united by now, Vietnam still divided in half, and Saudi Arabia have been part of the Ottoman Empire.
 

Vaporized

Banned
Israel only came into existence because it was created from land conquered by the British from the Ottoman Empire and the Holocaust occurred. Something that never needed to happen.
 
It wasn't indefensible at all. In fact, it was unconquerable because of its size. Malaya and the Philippines are not continental land masses. Australia is.
All it needed was that troops diverted to New Guinea and Guadalcanal should be used to first take Perth and then take Brisbane.

Can the Japanese take Darwin? Yes.
Can they hold it in the face of an allied interdiction campaign? Not for any reasonable length of time.
Can they expand their beachhead to get to anything worthwhile? Not a chance!
Why the fascination with Darwin? It is an isolated outpost not connected by anything except a single road from Adelaide. You'll note, I suggest that they avoid Darwin and instead concentrate on the even more isolated Perth and then swing their major forces to attack Queensland/Brisbane. and thence south to Sydney/Canberra.
 
This is a pre-1900 POD, but it has been argued that there might be no indepedent Ukraine today if the Russians had taken eastern Galicia in the nineteenth century. To quote (with a few changes) an old soc.history.what-if post of mine:

***

I have recently been reading Andrew Wilson's *The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation* (New Haven and London: Yale University Press 2000). In chapter 7 he has an interesting discussion of what would have happened to the idea of a Ukrainian nation if Russia had seized Galicia (or at least predominantly Ukrainian eastern Galicia) either in 1772, when Austria annexed the region after the first partition of Poland, or in 1813-15, when Alexander I attempted to secure it before and during the Congress of Vienna. Solzhenitsyn in particular has criticized Alexander I for failing to press home Russia's advantage after the defeat of Napoleon in 1812:

"Was [Alexander] seeking territorial rewards for Russia after such a bloody and victorious war? No, he did not put forward any preconditions whatever for aiding Austria and Prussia in 1813. The single wise move he could have made was to *return* [my emphasis--DT] Galicia to Russia, thus uniting the Eastern Slavs (and from what disastrous problems would he have rid our future history!) Austria was not particularly bent on retaining Galicia at the time, seeking rather to regain Silesia, annex Belgrade and Moldo- Wallachia--thus stretching herself between the Black and Adriatic Seas. But Alexander did not make use of this opportunity, although it was then easily within his grasp." *The Russian Question at the End of the 20th Century* (1995)

According to Solzhenitsyn, Alexander only compounded the mistake by seeking instead the "rebellious nest" of Poland (i.e., Congress Poland), "not seeing if only through Austria's example, how harmful it is for the dominant nation in a state to create a multiethnic empire." In other words, to Solzhenitsyn, as to many other Russians, "returning" Ukrainians to Russia (unlike annexing Congress Poland) would *not* have made Russia more multiethnic. Essentially, this view sees Russia as the successor to Kievan Rus', and the Ukrainians and Belarusians as Russians who had been artificially cut off from their fellow Russians by the Mongolian invasions and subsequent Lithuanian/Polish conquest. According to this point of view, it is unfortunate that the Ruthenes of Galicia and Bukovina were left outside the Russian sphere when all the other East Slavs (such as the Dnieper Ukrainians and the Belarusians) had been "reunited" with their Russian brethren in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Wilson thinks it conceivable that if eastern Galicia had been absorbed into Russia in 1772 or 1815, "modern Ukraine might then have become more like modern Belarus, with a much weaker sense of national identity." (p. xii)

It is certainly true that Ukrainian nationalism had far greater opportunity to develop in Galicia and Bukovina than in "Dnieper Ukraine." This is not due simply to Austria (eventually) having much greater freedom than Russia; Vienna actually had an interest in utilizing Ukrainian nationalism as a counterbalance to Polish nationalism in Galicia, and also to discourage the Russophile orientation among the East Slavs of Galicia (in 1882 there was a major treason trial of Russophile leaders). When Ukrainian nationalists were persecuted in Kiev, they could find refuge in Lemberg/Lwow/Lviv; when printing in the Ukrainian language was banned in Russia, Ukrainian-language books were smuggled in from Galicia. Ukrainian nationalists in Galicia viewed Galicia as the "Piedmont" of a future free and united Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Russophile orientation was in decline; in the 1907 elections to the Vienna parliament the Russophiles won only five seats to 22 for the Ukrainophiles.

To be sure, in 1914-15, when Russia did occupy most of Galicia and Bukovina, it viewed it as a golden opportunity to Russify the area. But by then it was too late. If Tsarist Russia had won the war and annexed Galicia, by that time it would indeed have been a "poisoned gift"--the higher Ukrainian consciousness of the area would exercise a pernicious (from the viewpoint of Russia's leaders) influence on Dnieper Ukraine--just as it did after 1945. (As Durnovo said in his famous memorandum warning Nicholas II against a war with Germany: "It is obviously disadvantageous for us to annex, in the interests of national sentimentalism, a territory [Galicia] that has lost every vital connection with our fatherland. For, together with a negligible handful of Galicians, Russian in spirit, how many Poles, Jews, and Ukrainized Uniates we would receive! The so-called Ukrainian, or Mazeppist, movement is not a menace to us at present, but we should not enable it to expand by increasing the number of turbulent Ukrainian elements, for in this movement undoubtedly lies the seed of an extremely dangerous Little Russian separatism which, under favorable conditions, may assume quite unexpected proportions.")

As Wilson says, all this does not mean that one has to accept Solzhenitsyn's views about avoiding Russia's "disastrous problems" with Ukraine if only Galicia had been annexed in 1815. This assumes that there were no significant differences to eradicate in 1815, whereas in fact there were already plenty. "Nevertheless, with nearly all significant Ukrainian territory under Russian control, Ukraine might have been in the same situation as Belarus and any nineteenth-century Ukrainian national 'revival' might have looked more like its much weaker north-western counterpart. The Greek Catholic Church would have been almost completely, rather than only partially, abolished in 1839, apart from some tiny remnants (assuming its other outpost in Transcarpathia was also under Russian control). On the other hand, in the Ukrainian territories already under the Tsars...there was already a much stronger national tradition than in Belarus. The nineteenth-century Ukrainian national movement began in Kharkiv. It would have had to stay there rather than transfer to Galicia, so it would have developed differently. But it would still have existed." (p. 121) (BTW, the Russian Imperial government actually encouraged the Ukrainian cultural revival in the 1830's. Interest in "Little Russian" culture was encouraged in order to de-Polonize right-bank Ukrainians who had lived so long under Polish rule. The point in teaching them that they were "Little Russians" was not to emphasize their differences from the "Great Russians" but their differences from the Poles.)

It has btw even been argued that Russia might have secured Galicia during the diplomatic maneuverings at the Congress of Berlin in 1876. I don't know how realistic that was, but 1772 or 1813-15 were real possibilities: Russian armies occupied Lviv (or however you want to spell it...) in 1769- 72 and part of Ternopil was temporarily annexed between 1809 and 1815.

Anyway I am skeptical whether all this would have ultimately prevented Ukrainian independence--after all, even Belarus which was totally under Russian control in the ninetenth century, and where national consciousness was much lower than in Ukraine, did after all ultimately become indpendent--though of course that was due largely to the national policy of the USSR, and with all the butterflies a Russian Galicia might create, I am not sure there will even be a USSR...

(I do think it would be fairly easy to prevent an independent Belarus with a twentieth century POD: The Belarusians in 1917 had much less national consciousness than the Ukrainians, and whether they were in fact a nation was disputed among the Bolsheviks. The creation of a Belorussian SSR was therefore by no means inevitable, and Stalin was the decisive voice in creating it against the objections of some members of the Bolshevik party's Northwestern Committee. See my post at https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/russian-belarus.410538/#post-14268706 where I note "It may be inconsistent to say that Ukrainian is a language and the Ukrainians a nation whereas Belorussian isn't a language and the Belorussians aren't a nation, but the Bolsheviks were capable of worse inconsistencies..." Had Belarus simply been incroporated into the RSFSR, I doubt it would ever have become independent.)
 
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